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Ex-Reds won't haunt us -- Benitez

Under-fire Benitez insists he's not fazed by return of strikers Keane and Crouch

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez does not fear the return of former players Robbie Keane and Peter Crouch when they face Tottenham at Anfield tonight.

Benitez sold both - Crouch because he wanted more first-team football and Keane after a disappointing spell of just six months - in July 2008 and last January respectively.

The pair - along with England striker Jermain Defoe - have helped fire Spurs into fourth place this season.

But Benitez believes too much is made of players facing their former clubs, which happens virtually every week in the Barclays Premier League.

"You can talk about which players are against you but I am sure there are 200 cases where they did not do anything against their former clubs but it always seems important when they score," said the Spaniard.

"If you name one player who will score against us it has to be Defoe, Keane or Crouch because they are the strikers and are scoring goals.

"Crouch wanted to play more games, he wanted to play every week, and he went to Portsmouth and then Tottenham - which was fantastic for him.

"Keane had a different situation. He came as a big name but sometimes players don't perform at the level you are expecting in your team.

"He is doing well now with Tottenham but I don't want to see them scoring too many goals because we want to be in the top four."

Benitez knows the match presents an ideal opportunity to make a move on their fourth-placed rivals and, despite conceding a morale-sapping last-minute equaliser at Stoke on Saturday, he is confident his side will rise to the occasion.

"We know this is a crucial game because if we beat them we will be one point behind," he added.

"It is very important for us but we have been playing a lot of important games in the last few months and the players are ready.

"If we can win against Tottenham the fans will be happier and the race for fourth place will maybe be easier.

"The main thing now is to improve and have more confidence and the only way to do that is by winning games.

"I was really pleased with the team-work and character the team showed the other day (at Stoke). We needed to show this character.

"We want to win and if we can we will try to play well but when you don't have confidence it is important to get the result each time."

Benitez is still keen to boost his attacking options with striker Fernando Torres sidelined for six weeks after undergoing a knee operation at the weekend.

However, a deal to sign Sunderland's Kenwyne Jones on loan until the end of the season broke down as the Black Cats were not prepared to allow the Trinidad and Tobago international leave in the short term without an agreement in place about a permanent move.

Bruce hit out at the "massively disrespectful" suggestion that his club would be prepared to loan Jones to Liverpool.

While Sunderland would consider cash bids for any of their players on their individual merits - and Bruce has spoken frequently about the challenge of eking the best out of Jones - they have not secured an adequate replacement and do not wish the Trinidad & Tobago international to become unsettled at the Stadium of Light.

Bruce has already dismissed publicly any interest in swapping Jones for Ryan Babel, the Liverpool winger, as has been mooted, and there is a danger of the relationship between the two clubs becoming strained.

Rafael Benitez had been hoping to sign Jones as temporary cover while Fernando Torres recovered from surgery and the Liverpool manager would be reluctant to meet Sunderland's £12 million valuation of the striker, even if he was able to.

"I think it's massively disrespectful to even suggest we would consider sending Kenwyne out on loan," Bruce said. "You don't loan out a player of his calibre. I don't know where these ridiculous stories come from but there's no way I'll be loaning Kenwyne Jones to anyone."

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